Favorite payment model for an mmo to have.

I’m curious what everyone will say. When it comes to an mmo, what is your favorite payment model?

Free to play - The game is free but has items to buy in a cash shop. (assume the items suffer from the average amount of F2P BS)

Pay to play - The game is $10-$15 a month to play but has no cash shop.

Buy to play - The game is priced according to the value of the game, you pay once, and has no cash shop.

I think that buy to play is the best option for players because that guarantees you that the game will most likely have a good quality and support but you’re not “forced” to pay every month. I bought GW2 back in 2013 and I think it’s one of the best deals I’ve done. I play maybe just once a month but when I play it I still have fun with the game, and I’m not forced to pay in order to get the best items. Also, in my opinion nowadays there are very few MMOs that can be really called “free to play”, as most of them are either “play a lot and don’t have real life to win” or “pay to win”.

My favorite is RuneScape’s style of payment. I personally feel it is the best payment method. There’s F2P and P2P worlds. Free to Play has access to 20 or so quests, a quarter of the map, and access to about half of the skills. When you pay the $8 monthly fee for membership you unlock every skill, faster training methods, the whole map, and every quest. I believe it’s the best because it allows players to play the game for free, they get hooked, complete all the F2P stuff, and buy membership. Since membership is such a low fee players are willing to pay it and it allows them to go several months without getting bored. Plus if you buy more than one month you get a few dollars off so often times players will buy a full year of subscription and if they get bored and quit before the year is up Jagex still has the money.

My only problem with RuneScape now is that in recent years a company bought 50% of Jagex so now things like Solomon’s Store (a cosmetic item shop), and Treasure Hunter (Basically like gambling, spend money on keys, unlock the chest and you can get xp, untradeable powerful weapons, etc).

F2P with micro-transactions for cosmetic items only.  I don’t mind subscriptions below $15 unless the content is gated, e.g. WoW’s daily and weekly lockouts (points for gear, raids, instances/dungeons).

Neverwinter for Xbox One has my attention right now.  I didn’t pay for the game and I don’t have to pay a monthly subscription for anything; it has micro-transactions but they’re meaningless.  Grand Theft Auto Online is another game I enjoy with no subscription or fee’s.  GTA$ can be earned quickly in-game and it’s the only micro-transaction.

  • Ex-WoW addict for 7 years, been on the wagon 11 months and 21 days.


But P2P feels more premium.

F2P with micro-transactions for cosmetic items only.

F2P with cosmetic items only is the best imo but games like that are a minority. I feel like calling your game free to play these days may hurt you more than help because of the large number of games doing F2P wrong.

I like buy to play. Like a subscription or one time cost.

I am against mixing game design and monetization systems. Its a slippery slope.

Keeping them completely separate with buy to play is healthiest imo

This is interesting actually. I do think both a cash shop with mere cosmetic items and a B2P model for expansion content is great. For example, you buy level cap expansion and it comes with new content. And even though, the game has a cash shop system that requires money, you can earn it by doing events, participating in various activities, and other aspects of the game to earn it for free. After much thought, allowing buy of cash shop currency with in-game currency creates hyperinflation (since the ratio for them is so different and bots exploit it) and is not a good idea. Think of the currency you use to trade for cash shop currency bound to your account. 🙂

The only reason I always prefer a subscription based experience is because as a customer you are “entitled” to a certain level of service and continued support that you don’t otherwise receive with a free alternative.  Second place is buy to play.

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